The new version of the consolidation plan for the University of South Florida was shared with students and faculty Thursday in a letter signed by USF President Steve Currall and Regional Chancellors Martin Tadlock of USF St. Petersburg and Karen Holbrook of USF Sarasota-Manatee.
The “version 2.0” comes just five weeks after the “preliminary blueprint” for consolidation was released to harsh criticism from St. Petersburg leaders and many veteran members of the USF St. Petersburg faculty.
According to the letter, the new version of the consolidation plan will “preserve the distinctive identities of each of our campuses, building on areas of strength and drawing upon faculty expertise.” The revised academic structure for the St. Petersburg campus will include:
- A reassignment of oversight of some USF Muma College of Business academic programs to St. Petersburg, such as B.A. in Finance and Master’s in Finance degrees.
- An interdisciplinary USF Center of Excellence in Oceanographic and Environmental Sciences.
- An interdisciplinary USF Center of Excellence in STEM Education.
- Distinctive programs in Journalism and Digital Communications … leveraging their proximity to the Poynter Institute for Media Studies.
- A path for expanded nursing, public health, architecture and community design, engineering and other programs.
The revised plan will retain some of the authority of the Regional Chancellors of each campus. These responsibilities were effectively stripped from them in the original plan, which gave USF Provost Ralph Wilcox control of all USF system academics and student life, leaving only “university advancement” initiatives like alumni relations and fundraising to the Wilcox and Tadlock. The framework outlines the Regional Chancellors’ “clear responsibility and accountability (i.e., “authority”) for academic and budgetary decisions.”
“I am very supportive of the revised consolidation framework and ask that every member of the USFSP community visit this version of the plan,” said Tadlock on Twitter. “The plan recognizes the value of this incredible campus to the region and community, and it supports the sense of place found here.” The revised responsibilities and authorities of Regional Chancellors outlined in the framework include:
- Decision-making regarding branch campus academic programs, in collaboration with college deans and faculty members
- Campus academic performance outcomes
- Assessing and planning future faculty needs at branch campuses
- Assessing faculty and promotion decisions on branch campuses
- Providing equitable support services for all students, faculty and other personnel on branch campuses, including local support for research, scholarly and creative activity, s well as professional development opportunities
- Propose and implement branch campus budgets, taking into consideration distinctive student demands and local workforce needs
- Lead daily branch campus operations, including campus safety, emergency preparedness/response and external affairs such as fundraising and local community partnerships, and
- Serving on the President’s Cabinet and as ex-officio members of the USF Foundation Board
Rep. Chris Sprowls, the architect of the state law that required USF’s consolidation, tweeted his support of the plan, saying “We passed legislation consolidating the three campuses of @USouthFlorida to benefit the students & create new opportunities for the surrounding communities. Today’s consolidation report honors that vision & lays out an exciting path forward.”
Thank you to Dr. @stevencurrall & his team for their leadership. Thank you to the Consolidation Task Force, the Branch Campus Board’s, the USF Board of Trustees, the Board of Governors, & especially Speaker @RepJoseOliva, President @BillGalvano, & @isayray for their support.
— Chris Sprowls (@ChrisSprowls) October 17, 2019
A further refined “version 3.0” of the consolidation framework will be formally presented to the USF Board of Trustees Dec. 3. According to the letter, the next iteration will include “even more more detailed information on alignment of academic programs, departments and colleges and other critical support structures.”